The White Reindeer

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The White Reindeer
Original release poster
Directed byErik Blomberg
Produced byAarne Tarkas
Written byErik Blomberg
Mirjami Kuosmanen
StarringMirjami Kuosmanen
Kalervo Nissilä
Åke Lindman
Arvo Lehesmaa
Music byEinar Englund
CinematographyErik Blomberg
Edited byErik Blomberg
Distributed byAdams Filmi
Release date
  • 25 July 1952 (1952-07-25)
Running time
74 minutes (1952)
68 minutes (1986 restoration)

The White Reindeer (Finnish: Valkoinen peura, Swedish: Den Vita Renen) is a 1952 Finnish horror drama film directed by Erik Blomberg in his feature film debut.[1] It was entered in competition at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival[2] and earned the Jean Cocteau-led jury special award for Best Fairy Tale Film.[3] After its limited release five years later in the United States, it was one of five films to win the 1956 Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film.[4][5]


The film, based on pre-Christian Finnish mythology and Sami shamanism, is set in Finnish Lapland and centers on a young woman, Pirita. In the snowy landscape, Pirita and reindeer herder Aslak meet and soon marry. Aslak must spend time away for work, leaving his new bride lonely. In an effort to alleviate her loneliness and ignite marital passion, Pirita visits the local shaman, who indeed helps her out; but in the process turns her into a shapeshifting, vampiric white reindeer. The villages' men are drawn to her and pursue her, with tragic results.[6][7]



Theatrical release[edit]

The White Reindeer was released theatrically outside of Finland at least in 11 countries, including the United States, Sweden and France.[8]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on VHS in Finland in 1990, and in the 2010s, DVDs were released in Finland and in France.[9] A 4K restoration from the original camera negative was realized in 2016–2017 by the National Audiovisual Institute of Finland, and was released on Blu-ray with Swedish and English subtitles.[10] On April 8, 2019, a Region 2 version of the film was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Eureka Entertainment, as a part of their "Masters of Cinema" series.[11]


International reception[edit]

The White Reindeer received mostly positive reviews from critics outside of Finland, with many praising the film's atmosphere, cinematography, haunting imagery. J. Hoberman from The Village Voice gave the film a positive review, calling it "a quasi-ethnographic exercise in magic neorealism". Hoberman also commended the film for its "terse delivery and stark premise".[12] Jeremy Aspinall from Radio Times rated the film four out of five stars, praising the film's documentary-style cinematography, which he felt effectively captured Finland's snow-filled landscape, haunting imagery, and Kuosmanen's performance.[13] Starburst Magazine's James Evans awarded the film a score of nine out of ten stars, calling it "a remarkable, beautiful, and compelling film that is fascinatingly rooted in Lapland mythology and Sámi practices"; highlighting the film's story, dream-like cinematography, and Kuosmanen's performance.[14]

Maitland McDonagh from TV Guide awarded the film 3 out of 5 stars, criticizing the film for being awkward in some parts while praising the cinematography, and haunting imagery. McDonagh concluded his review by calling it "A must-see for horror completists, and one of the few films to explore Sami folkloric traditions."[15]



  1. ^ Cowie, Buquet & Risto 1992, p. 267.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: The White Reindeer". Retrieved 24 January 2009.
  3. ^ "The White Reindeer (Erik Blomberg, 1952)". Make Mine Criterion. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  4. ^ "List of Winners – Golden Globes Best Foreign Film". Retrieved 12 December 2013.
  5. ^ Sundholm, John & Thorsen, Isak & Andersson, Lars Gustaf & Hedling, Olof & Iversen, Gunnar & Møller, Birgir Thor (20 September 2012). Historical Dictionary of Scandinavian Cinema (Google eBook). p. 389 et seq. ISBN 9780810878990. Retrieved 12 December 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  6. ^ "Valkoinen Peura Synopsis". Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Valkoinen Peura (The White Reindeer)". Retrieved 26 March 2014.
  8. ^ a b Valkoinen peura at Elonet (in Finnish).
  9. ^ White Reindeer (The) AKA Valkoinen peura (1952). DVD Compare, 31 October 2013.
  10. ^ Blu-ray-julkaisut. National Audiovisual Institute (in Finnish).
  11. ^ "The White Reindeer Blu-ray Release Date April 8, 2019 (Valkoinen peura / Masters of Cinema) (United Kingdom)". Blu-ray. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  12. ^ Hoberman, J. "Film". Village J. Hoberman. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  13. ^ Aspinall, Jeremy. "The White Reindeer – review". Radio Times. Retrieved 6 May 2020.
  14. ^ Evans, James (14 April 2019). "The White Reindeer (1952)". Starburst Magazine. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  15. ^ McDonagh, Maitland. "The White Reindeer - Movie Reviews and Movie Ratings". TV Maitland McDonagh. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  16. ^ Sundholm & Thorsen 2012, p. 390.
  17. ^ "Awards 1953: All Awards". Archived from the original on 26 December 2013.
  18. ^ "1953 - Le Jury, Les Prix". Retrieved 25 May 2017.


External links[edit]